too smart for its own good

I’ve been watching the PG&E usage reports for the house closely over the past few months, because we’ve made a few changes to power-consuming appliances.  Earlier in the year we started using our gas fireplace insert for heating instead of the gas furnace.  Last month there was a big change in the gas use – it dropped to about a 1/4 of what we’d used the previous month.  That I’d attributed to the new electric dryer replacing a gas appliance, although it seemed an extraordinarily large drop considering the gas dryer was supposed to be energy efficient.  But the weird thing about that usage report is that it showed the gas price per therm had more than doubled from the previous month.  If the rate hadn’t changed, our big drop gas use would have lowered our gas bill to about $20, compared to over $100 the month before.  So both of those lines looked odd in the report.  If the cost for natural gas from PG&E really did double in one month, you’d think that others would remark on that.

This month I was more interested in looking at the electric use, expecting it to drop because we’re now using Smart Strips to reduce standby power consumption for the PC, TV and related devices.  No big change – as a matter of fact, our electricity use went up over the previous month – not by much; .2 kWh per day.  But the gas usage and cost per therm numbers still look weird.  The usage went up – it’s just about even with the same month the previous year, but way up over last month’s use.  And the cost per therm dropped back down to the level it was at two months ago.

The other thing we have to factor in here as a “known unknown” is the new SmartMeter that PG&E installed on the gas meter in March.  That’s supposed to provide more accurate information about our daily gas use and send it via RF to PG&E.  But the numbers have looked strange since that was installed, so I suspect they’re still working out some reporting bugs.

2 Comments

  1. We were recently alarmed to receive a PG&E bill for the mostly unoccupied Stinson Beach house that was 10 times the normal amount. Turns out they read the meter wrong, but of course I was imagining all sorts of things — like someone rewiring the electrical so that we were paying for everyone on the hillside.

    1. I’m always thinking that our neighbors have somehow tapped into our water or power supplies. When we get the water bill and it says we’re using 100 gallons a day, my reaction is “Impossible! The neighbor must be connecting a hose to the outdoor faucet when we’re at work.” Or something equally implausible.

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